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26578: Miles (Announce): National Conference on Haiti's Environment (fwd)
From: Melinda Miles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Friends of Haiti,
At the end of September, Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY hosted nearly forty Haitians
in Jacmel, Haiti, for a three day conference on the environment. The conference
was an opportunity for Haitians from throughout the country to gather and share
experience and knowledge and launch a national working group on the
environment. KONPAY is excited to share the following summary report of the
conference with you. If you are interested in learning more or getting
involved, please don't hesitate to contact us, email@example.com.
For a green Haiti,
Joe Duplan and Melinda Miles
Co-Directors, KONPAY, www.konpay.org
Building a National Working Group on the Haitian Environment
Summary Report of the Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY Conference, September 2005
2. Resolutions for a Green Haiti
3. Resolution on Women
4. Education and Training
5. Carrying the Work Forward
6. KONPAY Activities for National Environmental Initiative
7. Get Involved!
At the end of September, Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY hosted a three-day meeting in
Jacmel, Haiti on the theme: How can we build a national working group on
Haiti’s environment? Participants were recruited from strategic geographical
areas and professional sectors. Forty Haitians from throughout Haiti arrived to
share their experiences with environmental protection and rehabilitation and to
contribute their ideas to this critically important topic.
A diversity of current initiatives on behalf of Haiti’s environment were
represented, including national peasant movements, non-governmental
institutions, small-community based organizations and groups working with
international and church support. Among the participants were agronomists,
agronomy technicians, a forestry engineer, community organizers, educators,
anthropologists and people with years of on-the-ground experience.
KONPAY chose to use the Open Space method to facilitate the greatest possible
exchange of ideas. Open Space gives participants the freedom to create an
agenda that covers what is most important to them, based on the logic that
passion creates motivation. As a result, the agenda of the meeting came from
participants who are not only engaged in environmental work but feel the
affects of Haiti’s environmental problems first-hand in their communities.
Major themes discussed during the conference include:
Poverty and environmental degradation
The importance of planting trees and preserving remaining forests;
Alternatives to charcoal;
Solutions for garbage and pollution;
Responsibilities of the government and lobbying the authorities;
Training, education and raising awareness;
The importance of women in environmental work;
Why a “konbit” (a community work group) on the environment; and
Carrying the work forward, collaboration and outreach.
2. Resolutions for a Green Haiti
Throughout the conference participants reaffirmed their consensus around one
major goal: building a green Haiti. The focus of the conference was to create a
new working group who will lead a national initiative toward this end. The
first step was to bring leaders from diverse locations and backgrounds together
and to create trust within the group. The conference allowed people the
opportunity to get to know one another, begin to build connections, and to form
consensus. The participants in the conference arrived at several points of
1. We need to take action now. We have to plant and protect trees. We need
measures to conserve soil across the country. Where there are no irrigation
systems, we must build them. Where there is the opportunity to transform
agricultural products, we have to create the means for transformation. Where we
have tourist spots we should develop eco-tourism and arts and crafts. We will
take the initiative to create a national “konbit” (working group) for the
environment with people from each of Haiti’s ten geographical departments.
2. We will combat poverty. The environmental problems we are facing call us
to create something more than an isolated movement; we have to work on the
causes of poverty.
3. Education and raising awareness are critical to efforts to save Haiti’s
environment. Public education campaigns to inform the general public about
environmental issues and community schools for peasant farmers should be
established. People need to learn the importance of trees – educate the young
people. Work should be done to raise awareness among charcoal producers of the
alternatives to charcoal.
4. The government must take its responsibility. It needs to make laws to
conserve soil and protect trees. Measures have to be taken to find alternative
systems for the owners of dry cleaning, bakeries and other businesses that use
wood for fuel. The state should provide more resources and work harder to help
people respond to the needs of the families. We will work together to pressure
the government of Haiti to take its responsibility.
3. Resolution on Women
Considering the marginalization of women in Haiti’s society, juxtaposed with
their integral role in agricultural and family life, the participants of the
conference expressed the importance of empowering women to participate in the
national working group.
We will include women in all of our meetings and assemblies.
We will help women free their minds from the instruction of inequality they
learn from their families and society.
We will raise awareness with men so they can understand women, and with women
so they can be integrated into all activities.
4. Education and Training
Participants in the conference were unanimous in their belief that education
and training are critical elements in efforts to protect the environment.
Education and training must be made available to the general population about
the environment in which they live. This includes the means and methods for
protecting their land, methods for recycling and composting, the importance of
trees to people and soil, and the necessity of rotating crops to renew soil.
Public service announcements should be ongoing and should be complimented with
educational events that reach people in their homes, schools, churches and
other community venues.
5. Carrying the Work Forward
As the conference drew to a close, participants tackled the question of how to
follow up and continue the work that was started during the event. The group
decided that each individual and his/her organization must share the results of
the conference with his/her community. It was suggested that a follow-up
conference be held in one year to include broader participation from national
stakeholders in the environment. Also, a group was formed to review and
organize conference results into a bound document for broad consumption of
references on education, training, resources and the national initiative.
Why a konbit for Haiti’s environment?
Participants discussed the reason for choosing to create a konbit, or working
group, as opposed to a national network or other more formal institution:
A konbit is a group of people who put their heads together for one goal because
we are all aware, and we are all victims. If we want to save the environment, a
konbit is the last card in the deck, and it’s time to play it. A konbit is the
right philosophy, because the environment is the work of everyone. The
environment is complex, so we need a team that includes agronomists, forestry
engineers, women, and educators. We can have a group designated to keep contact
and inform others of the work of the konbit, and local groups can help their
communities get involved.
Participants agreed that because it overlaps with KONPAY’s current activities,
KONPAY should coordinate follow-up activities determined by the conference
participants. Tasks include:
1. Facilitate ongoing communication among participants.
2. Conduct follow-up activities to achieve our long-term objective of an
active, grassroots-based national working group for a green Haiti.
3. Permit decentralization by visiting communities in remote rural areas and
integrating them into the initiative.
4. Coordinate and facilitate relationship building and training among
5. Keep a community calendar of events on the internet.
6. Encourage participants to stay engaged.
7. Envision an action plan for the initiative, using input from entire
6. KONPAY Activities for the National Environmental Initiative
Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti) strengthens existing
organizations, builds national networks and creates relationships between
individuals in the U.S. and Haiti. KONPAY focuses on Haitian solutions to
environmental, social and economic problems and provides training and funding
to grassroots and community-based projects.
In September KONPAY realized a long-term dream of bringing together Haitian
environmentalists to strategize and plan a national initiative together. Over
the next year, KONPAY will be coordinating follow-up activities on the
conference and preparing for a larger, national conference next year. This work
will happen on several levels.
First, KONPAY will catalogue existing efforts on the environment. KONPAY will
solicit information from organizations that can be accessed via internet or
phone and will conduct site visits to remote areas around the country. Staff
will visit villages in each geographical department to meet with local
environmental leaders. With the information gathered, KONPAY will begin to
build a library of organizations, cooperatives, and other initiatives for the
environment around the country. The entries for each effort will include
information about what resources they have and what they need. This directory
will be available on the internet. In addition, KONPAY will begin building a
library of information and articles on the environment in Creole to be
available both online and for hard copy distribution in more remote areas.
The second aspect of the effort is direct assistance to projects throughout the
country. This assistance will sometimes be funding for a tree nursery or other
project. Whenever possible KONPAY will link existing efforts to utilize
resources already available. For example, KONPAY is working now to put a new
group in Hatte-Granmont (Artibonite) in touch with the project in Gros Morne,
which is large enough to offer training and seedlings to Hatte-Granmont. KONPAY
has hired an agronomist, Claudy Pierre, and will soon be bringing on another
agronomist, Carlot Oscar, to work as a team offering diverse training to groups
throughout the country. Claudy and Carlot will offer technical support to
projects and conduct outreach for building the national konbit on the
environment, as well.
KONPAY will keep September conference participants engaged by coordinating
their outreach efforts for the konbit on the environment, visiting their
projects and offering support wherever possible. KONPAY will work with
participants to find new groups and to hold regional Open Space meetings to
begin determining regional and national agendas on the environment. As the
months progress, a small team will begin planning a second national conference.
Participants in the conference were quick to point out that the problems in
Haiti's environment are intertwined with the crushing poverty the majority of
the population lives in. KONPAY hopes that a triple threat of direct
assistance, training/popular education, and national organizing will have
immediate, short term benefits, as well as long-term results, especially for
rural families who cannot find enough food to eat. All of KONPAY’s
environmental work is based on the principle that there are five areas that
require simultaneous attention in order for any environmental efforts to
succeed: (1) Tree planting and reforestation, (2) irrigation and potable water,
(3) soil conservation and renewal, (4) alternatives to charcoal, and (5) family
level food security.
7. Get Involved!
KONPAY and the National Working Group on the Environment are committed to the
principles of Open Space, including “The people who come are the people who are
supposed to be there.” If you feel called to participate in building a greener
Haiti, you are welcome to join us! Here are some ways to get involved:
1. Suggest projects, individuals, institutions, or locations to be included
in the national directory of environmental projects.
2. Send articles for the new Creole library on the environment! Creole is
preferred, but we’ll accept articles in English and French as well.
3. Volunteer to help translate materials from English and French into
4. Contact KONPAY to get more deeply involved, Melinda@konpay.org.
5. Make a donation to help support these efforts. Your funding will be put
to work immediately! Here is how your funding might be used:
$ 50 Equipment grant for community group
$100 Scholarship to cover one participant in an
$150 Monthly salary for part-time KONPAY
$200 Community-wide education campaign
$250 Travel/stipend for trainers and community
$450 Community training session (includes stipends,
$1000 Regional Open Space Meeting and Training
$1,500+ Direct assistance to a community project